Being a superhero takes a toll on the eyes. If you wear contact lenses and work under dangerous conditions, there are some extra precautions you should take to ensure the safety of your eyes.
These 3 real-life jobs may require adjustments for contact lens wearers:
People who battle fires in city neighborhoods and state forests are true heroes. They put their lives on the line to save people and property. While on the job, they face hot flames, smokey air and flying cinders.
All firefighters are issued protective gear including eye and face pieces that keep smoke from impairing vision and respiration. Your lenses aren't in danger of melting while fighting fires, but they will more easily dry out.
Most fire fighting units, whether public, private, or volunteer, will allow you to wear contacts, but you should have a plan for cleaning and storing your contacts. You should also have access to eye flushing stations in case debris gets behind a contact lens and irritates your eye. You should have a way to wash or sanitize your hands to insert or adjust contacts without risking infection.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has standards that determine when corrected vision is too impaired to enable a person to fight fires safely. For example, your far vision acuity must be no less than 20/40 in both eyes when you wear glasses or contacts, and you can't be colorblind. You'll be examined to determine the health and precision of your eyes to make sure you meet your unit's criteria.
Crime lab expert
Those CSI shows make laboratory analysis look sexy and heroic. It's true that lab workers make a lot of amazing discoveries and solve many crimes. But laboratories are also places full of solutions, gasses, and vapors that may harm the eyes.
Some lab-safety experts recommend that contacts not be worn in any lab. The fear is that splashed liquids may do more damage when contacts absorb them. Also, gas-permeable contacts may allow harmful vapors to pool behind the eye and damage the tissue. Hard contacts which don't breathe at all may also be prone to having small particles of material catch behind the lenses.
But contacts may be safely worn in a laboratory if it deals with relatively benign materials. There are also safety goggles made specifically for contact wearers. Unlike traditional lab goggles, these glasses have no vents so gasses can't drift in around the eyes. As with any job where you depend on your eyesight, it's always a good idea to have a backup pair of corrective glasses close at hand in case your contact lenses become contaminated in the lab.
Suiting up to help save a stranded boater is a hero's job. But contact lens wearers may find diving a challenge when it comes to the comfort and reliability of their vision correction.
Expert divers say hard contact lenses are not the best choice for divers, because they're the smallest lenses and are easily washed out of the eye by a splash of water.
Larger soft contacts can be kept in the eyes merely by slightly closing the eyes in an emergency situation. Also, over-salty or under-salty water tends to make soft contacts "stick" to the surface of the eyes, so if your face mask comes off, keep your lids partly closed and the sea or lake water should make your contacts stay put while you continue diving. Be sure to clean them thoroughly once you can take them out.
Remember when diving that gas-permeable contacts may absorb and transfer any anti-fogging spray or wipe you've used on the inside of your diving mask. Rinse off excess anti-fogging substances before you wear contacts inside the mask, and find alternatives that aren't toxic to the eyes, like dilute vinegar or lemon oil.
You can be a super hero and wear contacts, too, in many cases. Talk openly with a new employer about their policies and rules governing contact lens use on the job. Find out where eye wash stations are, and always be prepared with extra saline solution, protective case, and spare glasses. You should also speak with an eyecare professional, like The Eye Center, for more information.Share